Genealogy info: Arthur (1), Chad (2), Thomas (3), Elhanan (4), Hiram (5), Ezra Morgan (& Melinda Hall)(6).
O. Aylesworth came to Drake University of Iowa in 1889 as head of the
Literature and Art Department and to serve as the chief assistant to
Chancellor Carpenter. He was born in 1860, raised on an Illinois farm,
attended Eureka College and served as a parish pastor for nine years
prior to his arrival at Drake. Upon the death of Carpenter, he was named
President in 1893, and was reputed to be the nation's youngest college
president at the time.
His teaching was described as being "plain, pointed and powerful".
"He had a ready gift of language, active imagination and ardent
enthusiasm of youth....and instituted "Three-Minute Speeches" at the
Drake chapel, which were pronounced to be "perfect gems".
His "progressive" nature made him very popular with the student body,
while his support of certain social reform movements, such as 'Kelley's
Army' during the depression of the 1890's, aroused some opposition among
conservative elements, which may have contributed to his eventual
resignation in 1897. He later became a leading lecturer and organizer
for the Progressive Party in the state of Iowa.
In July of 1899 he was appointed president Of The Colorado
Agricultural University, now known as Colorado State University. Barton
had an easy-going demeanor, a willingness to delegate authority and a
tolerance for opposing views when he assumed the CAC presidency at age
38 in July 1899. The combination of Aylesworth's non-confrontational
style and the vocal agricultural group on the governing board allowed
ranching and farming interests to take the college's agricultural
programs to greater heights - and nearly to determine the destiny of the
entire school. Barton resigned from that position in 1908. Aylesworth
Hall exists today on the campus to commemorate his tenure.
**See also his
The following article appeared in the book "Portrait & Biographical
Album of Polk Co. IA 1890, pages 255 & 256" and provides a more
complete biography of this famous American.
Barton O. Aylesworth
BARTON O. AYLESWORTH, A.M., Ph. B., President of the College of
Letters and Science, of Drake University, was born in Athens, Menard
County, Ill., September 5, 1860, and is the only child of Ezra and
Melinda (Hall) Aylesworth. He traces his ancestry back to a remote
period. In Oliver Cromwell's army served five brothers, who at the
restoration emigrated to America. From them has sprung a numerous
posterity, some retaining the original spelling of the name,
Aylesworth, while others have changed it to Ellsworth.
The grandfather of our subject, Hiram Aylesworth, a native of New
York, became one of the pioneer settlers of Trumbull County, Ohio,
and amid the privations and disadvantages incident to life in a new
country, reared a family of four sons. One of that number, Ezra,
inherited the martial spirit of his English ancestors. In the early
days of his manhood, he emigrated to Menard County, Ill., where he
became acquainted with and married Miss Hall, a native of that
State, and granddaughter of Thomas Hall, an estimable Virginian, of
French Hugenot and German descent. Her parents, Fleming and Susan
(Tice) Hall, removed to Illinois just before "the winter of the deep
snow." The father is still living at the very advanced age of
ninety-five years, and retains his mental and physical powers to a
remarkable degree. He may well be proud of the family which he has
reared, three sons especially being deserving of mention: Clayborn
is an eminent minister of the Christian Church; Joel, a well-known
druggist, was reporter for the Smithsonian Institute on Western
Meterology; Elihu gained a well-wide reputation as a botanist.
Without text book he began the study amid the luxuriant flora of
Illinois, and so ardently did he devote himself to the subject as
found in nature, that he was called "the Thoreau of the West." He
soon took rank among the first botanists of the United States, and
among his friends and correspondents was numbered the noted Asa
Gray. At his death his vast herbarium became the legacy of the
State. He also achieved distinction in the sciences, entomology and
conchology. His death was brought on by exposure in the ardent
pursuit of the subject to which he was so closely wedded.
After locating in Illinois, Ezra Aylesworth followed farming
until the breaking out of the war, when, feeling that his country
needed his services, he bade good-by to his young wife and infant
son, and offered his services to the Government. Acting as captain,
he was killed while leading his company at the battle of
Chickamaugua. His widow survived him eleven years.
Being left an orphan (his father dying when he was three years
old, and his mother during his fourteenth year), Prof. Aylesworth
went to live with an uncle, who became his guardian, and took an
active interest in his education. In 1879, he was graduated from
Eureka College, of Eureka, Ill., with the degree of A.B., and
afterward took a post graduate course in Bethany College in
Virginia, receiving the degree of A.M. in 1880. The following year
the same degree was conferred upon him by his Alma Mater. Upon
leaving Bethany, he accepted a call as pastor of the Christian
Church in Peoria, Ill., where he did noble work, building up the
congregation and paying off its indebtedness. In the summer of 1881,
he pursued a course in the Concord School of Philosophy, where he
was enriched by contact with such masterminds as William T. Harris,
A. B. Alcott, Dr. C. A. Bartol, Julia Ward Howe, and others scarcely
less distinguished. Returning to Illinois, he took charge of the
church in Atlantic, which under his ministry had a healthful growth.
While in that city, he was united in marriage with Miss Georgia M.
Shores, and unto them was born a son, Merlin H. After a pastorate of
two years in Atlantic, Prof. Alyesworth removed to his farm for
improvement and for quiet study. In the spring of 1884, he accepted
a call from the church in Abingdon, Ill., where he remained until
the fall of 1885, when he became pastor of the Church of Christ, of
Cedar Rapids, Iowa. That congregation was young and full of
vitality, and during the four years he labored with them, the
numerical strength was more than doubled. that is now the Banner
Missionary Church of the Brotherhood in Iowa. While in Cedar Rapids,
he found diversion in leading a philosophy club composed of the best
thinkers of the city, professors, doctors, lawyers, and others, and
in editing the Book Shelf, a monthly devoted to reviews of books and
literary productions in general.
In 1889, Prof. Aylesworth, quite unexpectedly to himself, was
called to his present position as President of the College of
Letters and Science and Professor of Mental and Moral Science. He is
making a special effort to broaden the work in literature and
philosophy, and his work thus far has given excellent satisfaction.
He has perhaps the most extensive private library in the city,
containing over fifteen hundred volumes. Socially, he is a Knight
Templar Mason, and while in College was a member of the Phi Kappa
Psi fraternity. In his political views, he is broad and liberal,
though thoroughly in sympathy with the principles of prohibition.
The faculty of Drake University is composed of some of the best
educators of the country, not the least of whom is Prof. Aylesworth.
He has achieved grand success for one so young. Ripe in scholarship,
he is also an accomplished speaker, but his oriatorial powers were
acquired. Until his second year in college he was seldom called upon
to recite in public because of an impediment in his speech, but by
constant care and practice, he developed a rich, clear, full tenor
voice. We close this brief sketch without eulogy, knowing that the
high position which President Aylesworth holds in one of the first
universities of the State, is a better and higher compliment to his
ability than any words of ours could express. He has the distinction
of being the youngest college President in the United States. Of
Prof. Aylesworth, one who has known him intimately, says: "while he
is progressive in his trend of thought, and familiar with every
advance movement in religion, science or philosophy, he yet holds
always with unyielding grasp to the great primary truths of the
gospel; like the artist who never leaves the primary colors of
nature, however lofty his conception; or the musician who never
forsakes the eight notes, though desiring and seeking an almost
endless variation within their compass."